Whatever legitimate criticisms people might level at the Olympics—including the encouragement of jingoistic and nationalistic rhetoric, the parading of athletes who overcome barriers and the burdens placed on host cities’ infrastructure—it still offers unparalleled opportunities for many athletes of color to rebuke systemic racism both on the playing grounds and off, inspiring generations of Americans in the process.
While the Rio 2016 Olympics only began last Friday (August 5), several exceptional Americans of color have already earned medals. We’ll keep track of those medals throughout the games, which end on August 21, and update throughout the next two weeks as Team USA members of color break barriers in pursuit of greatness. Here are those athletes so far:
Anthony Ervin, SwimmingErvin, who is of partial African- and Native-American descent, won a gold medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay event.
Nathan Adrian, Swimming*Adrian, whose mother hails from Hong Kong, also won a gold medal in the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay event.
Lia Neal, SwimmingNeal, of African-American and Chinese descent, won a silver medal in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay event.
Simone Manuel, SwimmingManuel, like Neal, also won the silver medal in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. She and Neal are two of three Black swimmers to place in the top three for the NCAA’s 100 yard freestyle last year.
Alexander Massialas, Fencing Massialas, whose mother hails from Taiwan, earned a silver medal in the men’s foil fencing event.
These five medal winners, two gold and three silver, contribute to Team USA’s 13 overall medals—the most of any country so far.
Check out the full medal tally on NBC’s Olympics website.
*Note: Post and medal tally has been updated to include swimmer Nathan Adrian.